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UEFA Champions' League

Man Utd v Chelsea: Preview

First of all, for all those who are crapping in their pants, watch the pre-match press conference with Fergie, Wes and Rio.

If that doesn’t help, then go find a toilet.

Ever since the pre-game conference against Barcelona (second leg) I’ve noticed a marked change in demeanour in Sir Alex. While he’s always loved being at the helm of affairs at the club, it has been very apparent, of late, that he’s really enjoying every bit of it.

To be honest, while nervousness is creeping in me slowly but surely, I am quite happy to soak in the atmosphere regardless of the result. Don’t get me wrong; I will be gutted if we lose today, but I would have been more gutted had we lost the Premiership. The Champions’ League will give our squad the ultimate reward it deserves, and could perhaps put an end to recent trends in mediocre league teams winning Champions’ League crowns. But being a cup competition and the sudden death nature of the contest, I have prepared myself for any eventuality because, at heart, I have always been a fan of the League system.

I would be lying if I said I don’t care about the Champions’ League. And I am surprised I am not bricking it like I’ve seen so many people around me doing so; I can’t really pinpoint one reason but I also feel quietly confident that we’ll win it.

But don’t worry, the nervousness is slowly gripping me as I write this.

But let’s forget about me for the moment and focus on who really matters. I’ve been reading various opinions, listening to a few podcasts, watching conference videos (like the one I pointed out at the start of the article). And I get the vibe that Chelsea seem very muted, cagey, and desperate to win this trophy. And it’s not to say that Man United players aren’t as keen, but Chelsea do see it more as redemption for what could otherwise end in a trophyless season. So arguably they are under greater pressure.

Again, according to reports from the training ground, like this one on the BBC the United players enjoyed a thoroughly euphoric training session where everyone enjoyed their time out; and in a podcast Derek Rae [of Soccernet] said Anderson might have made a case for his inclusion by scoring a cracking goal from quite a distance in training during a mini-football match. Little things like these send my spirits soaring. I have seen arguments to the contrary; that United are perhaps too relaxed and Chelsea are very focused. But I tend to see it in a positive light. Sometimes, in a final, when you have already won an arguably tougher competition, and have relatively less to prove, it could free up some of the nerves and make players shed inhibitions that are usually associated with finals.

Yet, the familiarity between teams could end up ‘treating’ us to the direness that characterized last year’s FA Cup final. It goes without saying, but anything that does not resemble last year’s FA Cup is more than welcome.

Let’s hope that, at least for the sake of spectacle, it is similar to either of the two games that United and Chelsea played this season. Settling a game in extra time or penalties is not good for the nerves.

On to team news, I am sure we’ll get the line up off the UEFA website, perhaps an hour prior to the game, but the boss did say that he’ll tell the players in the afternoon. Must be a tough job, despite the years of experience.

But we’ll make our own predictions on the formation right here. After the defeat at the Bridge, I am sure Fergie would have thought long and hard about formations and he might go with a 4-3-3 to combat the physical presence of Chelsea in midfield. So Hargreaves must start in a central midfield three, behind Scholes and Carrick. EVDS and the back four is certain; I am taking the word of the gaffer that Vidic will play. Two out of the front three is certain — Ronaldo on the right and Rooney upfront. I think Park, for his energy and industry to combat the work rate of Chelsea might get the nod ahead of Nani or Tevez or Giggs.

That leaves us with the bench to decide on: Kuszczak, O’Shea, Tevez, Giggs, Nani, Anderson and for the last spot it would be Saha if he’s fit. Otherwise it would have to be a toss up between Fletch and Silvestre. I think Fletcher might just pip Silvestre on this one.

Prediction: 2-1 to United.

So the stage is set, it’s over to you [and then the lads] to win this trophy and make us proud.

Come on you REDSSSSSSSSSS!!!